Saturday, October 31, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
The discarding of Buell by Harley Davidson has lead to more than a few discussions around the ol’ IronWorks clubhouse. Love Buell or hate Buell, the company’s demise is a blow to the motorcycling industry. No one wants to see one of its own go down for the count and not get back up. Though the quality control in the early years was iffy at best, I’ve admired how far they come in bringing a better product to market, though not perfect. At one point in Buell‘s history, nearly all of its bikes were recalled. That‘s a hard shot to the jaw. But Buell stood fast and followed through with the commitment to make better bikes. We had the chance to see the new engineering efforts up close about three years ago when Buell hosted a test ride at Welch Village. (Unfortunately, it was a wash out and the company lawyers wouldn’t allow test rides in the rain.) Though Buell’s were never to my taste aesthetically, and I believed them to be far too small for my stature, I found its Ulysses model eye catching, and a bike that had a lot of potential to push the company forward. And, with popular press, I think it did. Buell, as a bike builder, brought a lot of ingenuity to the table with it gas-in-frame design, mass centralization and all of that. But what really hamstrung Buell, and we all know this, was its use of the Harley Sportster engine. We all questioned how Buell could charge $10,000 for a sport bike that essentially had a 1950s era power plant when the same money could buy a Japanese liter bike that would simply smoke a Buell any which way on any given day. I think Buell saw that as a problem and eventually turned its eyes to Rotax to develop the mill that wound up going into the 1125R and 1125CR. When these bikes were brought to market, some were happy that America had finally delivered a home grown sport bike worthy of being called a “sport bike”. But again some would argue that these two models were still ugly, overpriced, and over matched by other manufacturers. No matter, it was another step forward. Clearly, Buell was trying to step out of Harley’s big shadow. Unfortunately, it was too little, too late. And it didn’t help that Harley Davidson treated Buell as the red headed step child. As the economy hit hard, Buell had to idle its plant late this summer. And, as many are aware, Harley pulled the plug on Buell two weeks ago. Honestly, I find this act to smack of treachery on the part of the Motor company. There probably will be efforts to revive Buell, and in fact those rumors have already started to circulate. But the problem is that Harley has destroyed the Buell name, and with it any legacy that may remain. I’ve seen ads on the internet for the remaining new on-the-show-room-floor Buells selling for thousands less than the asking price of just a few weeks ago. These are no doubt great deals, but they came at a high cost for Buell owners who will never be able to sell their bikes second hand any where near a reasonable asking price. The bottom has dropped out for them, and for this Harley should be looked upon with disdain. Yes, times are tough and business is business, but this was heartless. It has left a cadre of riders who will never buy another Harley product and will do all that they can to vilify the company name. At a time when Harley should be attracting younger riders, it has slammed shut a window of opportunity. Short sighted as bad economic times do not last forever. If Harley’s profit margin stays in decline, I’d hate to see what’s in store for the faithful that blindly buy its products year after year. Harley likes to tout that faith in its marketing, but it may only flow to benefit one entity; the one housed at Juniper Avenue in Milwaukee.
Little Timmy and I did a spur of the moment coffee run down to Pepin. Saturday was predicted to be the only good day of the week. Weren't a lot of others bikes out there, but a handful of Beemer guys, a Gold Wing or two, and a few sport bike jockeys. I guess 45 degrees keeps a lot of riders at home. The Aerostich and a heated vest definitely help on the cooler days, and so did my new fleece long undie bottoms. I had to give them a test run, and honestly, I would have been fine without them. (Underneath the vest, I only wore a t-shirt and a long sleeve UnderArmor knock off. It kept me warm, but the ride home my forearms got cold. I don't retain heat very well, so I was happy with the results and could have ridden all day long in that set up.) Timmy and I were the only takers at the Great River cafe, and we even sat outside. A few others trickled by on Hwy. 35, but no one stopped by to exchange the usual war stories. As Little Timmy and I talked; here is the official IronWorks prediction: August was wet and cool; September was hot and dry; October has been simply crap. It seems that based on that pattern every other month has been decent, so that stands to reason that November will bring weather conducive to good riding. Don't put the bikes away just yet.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
We all know the riding season is dwindling down, but enough already. Today marks the third snowfall for October. And it is a big, wet, sloppy snow that has managed to snap a few trees limbs around the neighborhood and bring down a power line or two. This is the sort of weather that needs to happen at the end of November. We haven't even had our Indian Summer yet, nor a hard, deep freeze of yet. On the up side; tomorrow is Saturday, and it looks to be the only decent day of the week ahead: a high of 50 and sunny. If it's good enough to melt this slop by mid-day, we're outta here.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Sunday, October 18, 2009
This time of year, a lot riders start thinking about storing the bike for the year. For us, we think how much longer can we prolong our riding. Today was a prime example. It's been crappy weather-wise in pretty Red Wing. We had snow earlier in the week, and it stayed in the 30s and low 40s as the days drew closer to the weekend. Finally, the weatherman predicted a good day, and the mercury hit the low 60s this afternoon. It's where the temps should be this time of year. We think that Fall is really the best time to ride, and today was simply stellar. Some have been chased off from riding because of the past week; but today just inspires us to ride some more even as the shadows grow longer, and the days way shorter. I am inspired to say that there will be more days like this. And it will make those rides that much sweeter.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Our man Woody meets his demise at the 2009 Red Wing IronWorks Motorbike Club Octoberfest gathering. It was sad to see him go, as we knew him well. Little Timmy and Christian (upper right) doing whatever it is that they do.... don't ask. Lucifer and Bill (upper left) get to know each other a little bit better.
October Fest 2009 was all good, and our friend Woody made his debut, but it was a short and sweet relationship as he was sacrificed to the the firepit. In spite of waking up to snow and a blustery day, the wind calmed down and everyone gathered for OctoberFest beer and a good time. Though the temps were in the low 30s (that was debated, however), members of the IronWorks believe there is still some good riding left in the season.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Monday, October 5, 2009
Sunday, October 4, 2009
The intent was to make the annual Fall Slimey Crud Run... Problem is, we didn't get to Leland, Wis., where the Crud Run meets every Fall and Spring. We stopped for chow in the morning; had a slight mis-navigation glitch somewhere in the Ettrick, Wis, area, and then some rain slowed us down. Around 1 PM we arrived in Ontario, Wis., home of the Wild Cat Mountain road. We stopped for gas and Brian checked his GPS which indicated 22 miles to Leland as the crow flies. However, from Ontario, there is no direct as-the-crow-flies route to Leland. We estimated at least another 45 minutes or better of riding which would put us past the prime time bike viewing/gawking/watching in Leland. As the temps really didn't climb much past 50, and off and on rain kept the air damp and cold, I suggested Viroqua as a stopping place not too much further down the road from Ontario. I knew of a pretty good coffee shop and lunch stop there, and figured that would be a good place to take a break before routing back to Red Wing. We crossed over the Wild Cat Mountain road just as it started to rain. (This was the second time it rained right when we hit the twisty spots - first being Mindoro Cut. I rode that stretch in a rather geezerly manner as Rob and Christian breezed through it like nothing.) It was coming down hard enough to cause me visability problems as my visor fogged up permanently and would not clear. It didn't matter as progress over the top was slowed by a pickup truck or two. Once over Wild Cat, the ride from Ontario to Viroqua was good except for the intermintent gravel stretches that caused us to re-route a couple of times. Finally, we made Viroqua only to find out that the eatery I had in mind - Common Ground - was shuttered. Instead we settled on another establishment on the edge of town. We drank coffee, and I attempted clean the mystery fungus off of my visor to no avail. At this time, we decided to head back to Red Wing, more or less the direct way through LaCrosse and north on Hwy. 61. We rolled into Red Wing shortly before 6 PM. All in all, no complaints, good ride and we all stayed warm in spite of the weather.